No bumper horse impressed me more last season tha Envoi Allen and this Gordon Elliott trained gelding looks to have a massive future going forward and looks one to keep firmly onside when sent hurdling in 2019/20.
This strapping five-year-old was purchased for £400,000 on behalf of owners Cheveley Park Stud by top bloodstock agent Tom Malione after impressive winning his sole start in an Irish point at Ballinaboola by 10 lengths.
He had a huge reputation ahead of his eagerly awaited debut under rules for Elliott and did the job in style when coming from off the pace before running on strongly to easily beat Port Stanley by four lengths in a 14-runner Bumper at Fairyhouse.
Envoi Allen backed that up with success in a seven-runner affair at Navan before taking the step up into Grade 2 company in his stride when giving weight all-round and finding plenty for pressure to beat Meticulous by a cosy 1 1/4 lengths.
That victory saw the son of Muhtahtir sent off the heavily backed 2/1 favourite for the Grade 1 Champion Bumper over 2m at the Cheltenham Festival and Envoi Allen justified the support in taking fashion.
Speed and Stamina
After being held-up in the early stages by regular pilot Jamie Codd, Envoi Allen cruised into contention before taking up the running travelling strongly rounding the home turn.
Blue Sari then loomed up and looked a huge danger approaching the final furlong but Envoi Allen was not going to be denied and found plenty for Codd’s urgings to fend off the persistent challenge of Willie Mullins’ highly-touted charge and score by 3/4 of a length.
It was a performance which oozed class, especially as Envoi Allen was giving the runner-up an 8lb weight-for-age allowance.
Envoi Allen showed a high cruising speed, potent turn of foot and guts to get the job done. That is a rare trio of attributes which marks a horse out as something potentially very special.
Elliott, who was recording a 24th victory at The Festival overall, said: “Envoi Allen is a very nice horse.
“We have always thought a lot of him and he did well to win. He is a horse for the future and we are delighted with his win today.
“He go novice hurdling next year. He is going to end up being a three-mile chaser one day and the future is very exciting with him.”
Codd Full of Praise for “Big Baby”
A tearful Jamie Codd remembered his late brother Willie when reflecting on the victory of an “incredible horse”.
He said: “It’s an emotional day and we’ve had a tough year after losing my brother last year. He’s up there looking down and I hope he’s very proud. William was a big supporter of mine when I started riding and, God, I wish he was here.”
“Envoi Allen s an incredible horse, 17 hands and a big baby, and now he’s won a point and four bumpers. I feel it’s my job to educate him this year and mind him for his future assignments over jumps.
“All I wanted to do was make sure he would learn something and really finish off his races, and he’s done that today. He’s beautiful – he only cost £400,000 mind, but Tom Malone saw something in him that day and Gordon, myself and Cheveley Park have all benefited.”
Ballymore the Obvious Long Term Target
Given that he is such a big baby and has a huge frame to grow into and strengthen it’s frightening how good Envoi Allen could turn out to be.
He is yet to taste defeat and despite the fact that his future is undoubtedly as a chaser given his physique there is little doubt in my mind that there are plenty of top class hurdle races to be won next season with Envoi Allen.
Elliott was worried that the speed test of the Champion Bumper would not play to the strengths of Envoi Allen, but that fear proved to be unfounded.
However, as a hurdler he will surely come into his own when stepped up in trip – so that rules out the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle over 2m at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival for which he is currently a top priced 20/1 with Paddy Power.
A far more suitable ultimate target at the meeting, in my opinion, would be the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle over 2m 5f for which he is ante post favourite and can be backed at a standout 12/1 with Betfred.
The race looks tailor-made for Envoi Allen who has the same profile to stable companion Samcro who won the contest in 2018.
There are plenty of valuable prizes to be plundered ahead of that race with Envoi Allen should all go to plan and he is a must for any horses-to-follow list for the 2019/20 season.